Planning a balcony with purpose is no easy feat, especially for condo dwellers. This year has given a new meaning to being outdoors and has taught us to value whatever space we have. Red Barrinuevo, principal at Redesign4More and property stylist on HGTV’s Hot Market, is sharing ten tips for optimizing outdoor spaces and making the most of your balcony.
- ESTABLISH ZONES
Even if you have a postage-stamp-sized balcony, it’s important to map out your space. Zoning allows you to maximize functionality. If it’s a small balcony, think about what you’d like to use it for and what is most important to you. If you have a larger space, zoning is essential because there are many more possibilities to consider. Should you add a water feature or a serving cart? A sectional or a children’s play area? Figure out how your outdoor space will function before making any other decisions.
- WARM IT UP
Most condo balconies are simply slabs of concrete surrounded by glass. To add warmth to an outdoor space, use organic elements, such as wood floor decking or plant life. These things will change the look of your balcony right away. When shopping for outdoor furniture, opt for natural and renewable materials such as teak, mahogany or rattan. Your space will go from cold and concrete to cozy and inviting in no time at all.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCALE FURNITURE
There are a lot of stores that sell condo-sized outdoor furniture that kind of mimics the pieces you have inside your home. Try a scaled-down sectional or a bench that can be pushed up against a wall. If you’re really limited on space, a drop-leaf table, a bistro set, or a comfy corner chair can work wonders.
- INTEGRATE STORAGE
If you want to add storage to your outdoor space, look for double-duty furniture. Choose a coffee table with storage space underneath or a chest that can also serve as a bench. This allows you to tuck away accessories such as throw pillows, furniture covers, and extra blankets.
- INJECT COLOUR WHEREVER POSSIBLE
There are so many ways to add color to your outdoor space! Throw pillows, outdoor rugs, potted plants, and accessories are the easiest to do. If your interior color scheme is a bit more muted, your outdoor space can be an opportunity to experiment with brighter colors. It’s less of a risk and fairly easy to change up if you grow tired of the look.
- FOCUS ON FLOORING
Choosing floor coverings depends on how much you want to spend and your balcony’s exposure to the elements. Outdoor tiles are fairly inexpensive, but if you’re willing to spend more money you could go with hardwood decking — it really looks like an extension of your living room if you pick a colour that is similar to your interior flooring. Outdoor rugs are a renter-friendly option, which you can easily pick up at HomeSense, Walmart or on Wayfair for around $30 or less. You get a decent floor covering that’s trendy, too.
- SET THE MOOD WITH OUTDOOR LIGHTING
LED string lights and lanterns are great — I really like Edison bulbs, string lights, or an outdoor chandelier centered above a dining table. If your building has restrictions on the types of lights you can hang (bah, humbug!), opt for a solar-powered lantern that gives off an ambient glow.
- ADD GREENERY
On my balcony, I use faux boxwood — I love real plants, but faux is so easy and you can control the look. If you’ve got a green thumb, consider using majesty palms during the summer months. They help with privacy and lend a tropical feel. A potted ficus tree, real or faux, is another great option.
- CREATE PRIVACY
Choose bigger plants to make your space feel more private. Privacy screens are an easy way to keep away prying eyes. You can find rolled bamboo panels or artificial ivy leaf screens at home improvement stores. These act as a curtain, but have a more natural feel.
- USE IT OR LOSE IT
The square footage of new condos is shrinking. If you have a balcony, it can be a great way to extend your living space outside. Think about what you lack on the inside, and make it happen on the outside. Do you need more space for entertaining, or crave a reading corner where you can unwind with a good book? Get rid of the clutter and add functionality, utilize your balcony.